Saturday, February 23, 2013

Letters composed in my head at 5am

Well it finally happened. My dad sent me an email last week saying he saw a couple of his cousins (who are both my Facebook friends so know I'm pregnant through that) and they asked how I was doing. So I wrote back and told him about how I'm doing- much better now that I'm not throwing up every morning anymore, although I've barely gained any weight because of said throwing up ( only abut 3 pounds so far) and then a bunch of other stuff just updating him on what's going on with my life. And he wrote back and one of the things he said was "so have you thought about if you are going to give the baby a Jewish name? A bris if it's a boy?"

Ahh the bris question. I'm surprised he managed to hold out until I was 18 weeks along. But like, seriously, what does he think the answer is going to be?

I haven't written back yet cause I'm not sure exactly how I want to say "no, most definitely no on both counts." But heres an email I composed in my head this morning at 5am when i couldn't sleep (finding it uncomfortable to sleep lately cause I can no longer sleep on my stomach, not supposed to sleep on my back because it can compress a major vein, and I dont like sleeping on my side, which is my only choice. Plus kicking waking me up).

Dear abba,

No we are not going to give our kid a Jewish name or a bris. I know you had the idea that when I got pregnant and had a child I would want to become more religious, since you've said as much, and otherwise why would you ask me that question when you already probably knew what the answer was? But I still am an atheist and dont want to be part of any religion, and am not planning on having any religious ceremonies for my child, whether a bris or a baptism.

I know this probably disappoints you, but I guess we both had unrealistic expectations of how me being pregnant might change things. You thought I might become more religious, and I thought mom might want to actually have a relationship with me, and maybe be excited about becoming a grandmother the way most normal people react to that kind of news. But instead she hasn't responded to either of the emails I sent her with pictures of ultrasounds, and I haven't heard from her since you put her on the phone when I called to tell you I was pregnant 3 months ago. I imagine she hasnt told any of her friends about becoming a grandmother (her mother certainly had no idea when I called to tell her) because she is still obsessed with how this might reflect on her image or whatever.

Why would I ever want my child to have any part of a religion that tells mothers to treat their children and grandchildren this way?

Love,
Abandoning Eden

73 comments:

  1. very eloquently stated. i hope that maybe your email to your dad will cause some positive change with your relationship with your mom. much love.

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  2. that pretty much covers the ground, and nicely, too. I say hit send.

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  3. I liked the letter until the last paragraph. I think its a bit abrasive (not that you don't have every right to be, but your father has been reaching out to you).

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  4. Wow, your father, who has been increasingly supportive and understanding, has asked you a reasonable question, and you are going to respond with this nasty an email? Your father has clearly tried to back off on the religion. I don't think his question is out of bounds for a lapsed Jew, anymore than asking a lapsed Catholic if they were taking their child for first communion would be a cause for outrage.

    I mean, he clearly isn't insisting you do, just asking if you plan on it. He might have relatives names for you to consider if you were. I think that going into it is ridiculous.

    If you want a relationship with him you need to stop biting his head off every time he talks to you.

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  5. BTW, I think

    "[I] dont want to be part of any religion, and am not planning on having any religious ceremonies for my child, whether a bris or a baptism."

    is a perfectly reasonable response. Attacking his religion because of his wife's behavior is probably unnecessarily hurtful.

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  6. I'm sorry your mom is so hurtful.

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  7. Miami Al, if you used your reading comprehension you might find out that I didn't send this email to him and haven't written back to him yet. As I said, i still haven't decided how I'm going to respond to him. I often write letters that I don't send, I find it cathartic, and I think this blog is the perfect place to post them.

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  8. Is Narcissistic Personality Disorder a religion now? You're mother would have been a cold fish regardless of whether or not she was religious.

    If it makes you happy to write letters that you won't send but just post here, fine. For any letter that you may actually send, though, your father is not any more responsible for your mother's behavior than you are for B's.

    You can either answer for father's question, or ignore it. I don't believe that every question deserves an answer, esp. when it doesn't concern him directly and the issue is not up for discussion.

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  9. fortunately I don't have to write back at all...he called me today since it's a holiday (purim) and he didn't ask about the bris thing, but since we talked on the phone I don't have to write back to his email now.

    Of course my mom was also right next to him when he called (they were driving somewhere for a seudah) and didn't feel the need to talk to me at all.

    Yes my mom is narcissistic (possibly), but she uses her religion as an excuse, and her religion is definitely the reason she got the idea in her head that she should disown me to begin with. If it wasn't for religion she might be a cold fish or whatever, but I don't think our relationship would be half as bad as it is now.

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  10. I think it's great until the last paragraph. I don't know much about Judaism, but it sounds more like it's your mom's personality disorder, and she uses religion to justify her behavior.

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  11. I think there is an interaction between religion and her personality, where religion makes her personality disorder that much worse. All the source of our conflicts have been religion.

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  12. She has religion as an excuse to cut you out of her life.

    It's too bad that your dad might not take the most honest
    answer to that question well. You have given a lot of thought to the idea of a Hebrew name or bris for the baby. Of course, the question you've given a lot of thought to isn't "Are we going to do this?" but "how poorly will my parents take the news that we're not going to do it?

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  13. Dear AE,

    After reading the past couple of posts, I think that it's clear that your father is making a good faith effort. His help may come in handy later on in life. On the naming issue,many American born Chinese have a Chinese name and an American name they use for business, so you can pick a Hebrew name and still be athiest, plenty of Israelis are athiests with Hebrew family names. On the bris issue if you have a son, probably best never to talk about it again. Your father seems very reasonable not bringing it up.

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  14. AE, I have a lot of respect for you, but I agree with the others above. If it wasn't religion, your mother would have found some other "reason" to disown you. The fact remains that your father is just as religious and still wants to maintain contact with you and be a part of your life in some small way. Religion is not stopping your mother from connecting with you, just as religion didn't stop B's parents from maintaining a relationship with you.

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  15. I would say that you answer the question with a simple No, that you are not planning to give him a bris and add a little empathy for his feelings, that you know that is painful for him but that you hope he can be happy about everything else.
    If he leaves it aside, great. But in all probability he will bring it up again later on in the pregnancy. If he pursues the issue, tell him you don't want discuss it because you both have very strong feelings on the issue, and you would like to avoid conflict because you value your relationship. Hopefully he will respect that but only time will tell.
    (As you can see, my general philosophy is that its always good to throw in something warm and connecting even as you define your separateness and distance. Not that I've been very successful at doing that with my own folks- I'm 26 weeks and they still don't know I'm pregnant).

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    1. Good luck with telling your parents...I hope it goes well

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  16. Out on the West Coast, Reform Rabbis are performing "baby namings" for boys as well, since circumcision is rarer than on the east coast, and many Jews are not circumcising their sons out there.

    I think if you wanted to show your father some appreciation for how far he's come, you could wait until after the child is born, talk to him about names, and perform such a ceremony and email him the name. He's then have a Jewish name he could share with his friends/family, and you've side-stepped the whole Bris thing.

    That said, you have to let go of the anger and not attack him. For your father-in-law's death, he sent a very thoughtful card. He's clearly accepted that you aren't religious in any way, he's trying to understand what that means.

    I have non-Orthodox friends and family. Most have a Mezuzah on the doorpost, but I wouldn't be shocked if the cover lacked a scroll and was put up without a Bracha. Most have Jewish names and their kids do, but they have to look it up at Bar Mitzvah time. The things he has asked about are things that my relatives with "Chanukah Bushes" all do, not "crazy Orthodox things."

    I get the atheism part, but I have lots of atheist Jewish friends, but since they are lapsed Reform/Conservative Jews, they tend to still have a Mezuzah up. The are hit or miss on most things, but generally when the girlfriend/boyfriend puts up a Christmas tree, they tend to show enough pride to buy a Menorah, even if they forget to light it most nights.

    There is a secular Jewish culture in this country, and the questions that your dad has asked you are well in line with that. Praying on Yom Kippur isn't exactly a "super frum" thing to do, many Jews that go out for a BLT Bagel after services do pray a little on Yom Kippur, even if they aren't changing anything.

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  17. Miami Al - I disagree with the suggestion of a "baby naming" in lieu of a bris. It sounds like a compromise that would please no one in this case. AE's dad wouldn't see it as a bris and may even be offended by the idea that someone could push the idea of a "bris alternative". AE herself has no desire to welcome her baby into the Jewish community.

    AE - you've mentioned that your mother had many issues that had nothing to do with religion: criticizing your weight, your hair, your clothes, being open about the fact that your brother was an accident, ignoring you from a very young age, etc. I wonder if you are still clinging to a fantasy that things could have been different?

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  18. JRKmommy,

    AE has no desire to welcome her baby into the Jewish community, which I find a bit sad, but a logical conclusion from the negativity she found with Judaism.

    However, it might mean something to her father that his grandchild has a Jewish name, even if the Brit Milah is not performed. I mean, from a technical point of view, the obligation to perform Brit Milah is on the father, who isn't Jewish, and upon the boy's Bar Mitzvah, is upon him.

    I mean, he asked if he could bring a Mezuzah, was told no, and didn't do so, right? He didn't come in with a hammer and put it up, he asked. He asked about a Bris/Naming, he didn't schedule with a Mohel to come out for discussion.

    I mean, they live 1000 miles away. A "baby naming" would not satisfy his desire for his grandson to have a Brit Milah, but it might let him save face amongst his contemporaries to be able to give them the Jewish name of the child, and let him sidestep questions about the Bris. If he's asked, his estranged daughter held a private ceremony and didn't involve him... last I checked, outside of the pediatrician, nobody will see/not see the evidence.

    I mean, her Chareidi father asked about a quickie Reform Conversion for his son-in-law, he's been hoping she'll maintain some modicum of Judaism while realizing she will never be an observant practicing Jew.

    Heck, I have extended relatives that aren't Halachically Jewish (but have 1-3 Jewish grandparents) that have help "naming ceremonies" with their Jewish family in toe.

    Judaism is obviously a big deal to her father. I've seen plenty of intermarried people that have done short ceremonies to appease their relatives while not wanting any part of Judaism as part of their day to day life.

    Her anger towards her mother is real and justifiable. Her anger towards her father is also real and justifiable, but her father has come a long way towards accepting her. If she wants a good relationship with him, at some point she has to stop punishing him and accept him for who he is, and a token of appreciation might be nice.

    You'll notice he calls her before holidays, fills her in on family events (even if awkwardly), etc. It's Passover in a few weeks, a nice gesture might be for AE to call HIM before Passover and wish him a nice holiday. It might not be a holiday to her, but it is to him. It doesn't all have to be one way.

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  19. There's a difference between creative modern ceremonies that reflect the views and diverse backgrounds of the family, vs. doing a sham ceremony to appease Orthodox friends and family who won't be fooled.

    Some interfaith couples are quite sincere about the naming ceremonies, and have a true desire to see their children embrace the Jewish part of their background. Right now, though, that doesn't seem to describe AE and B.

    As for naming - it's obviously a very personal choice, but to my mind, the Ashkenazi custom of naming a baby after a deceased relative could have particular significance in light of the recent passing of B's father. Honoring his memory by incorporating his name into the baby's name could be far more meaningful - and in keeping with the spirit of Jewish tradition - than making up a Hebrew name that would never be used.

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  20. Um, my father is not charedi, my parents are both modern orthodox, right wing modern orthodox to be sure, but definitely not charedi.

    Also, why would I have a private ceremony that's meaningless to me so that I can tell my dad I had one? What would that even entail, contacting the local reform rabbi? Saying some voodoo words over my kid's head? Um, sorry, but no fucking way do I want to be on the radar of the local jewish community. He can just tell people I had one if it's that important to him. Heck he can tell people I gave my kid a bris if it's that important to him.

    As for all y'all religious folk who think this is my mom just being a jerk and this has nothing to do with religion, I really think you are fooling yourselves here because you don't want to believe that your religion causes people to do such things. Yes my mom might be a jerk, but she honestly believes that she is supposed to cut me off because I married someone not jewish. Yes our relationship was rocky before and she was hyper-critical of certain things (like my weight since I was always a lot fatter than she was) but our relationship didn't take a turn for the horrible until I openly became not religious, before that it was pretty ok except for the weight criticizing thing and the not paying too much attention to me thing. She didn't become openly hostile towards me until i became openly non religious, and she didn't cut me off until i married a non jew. I don't think she would have disowned me if I hadn't married a non jewish person, and I'm not in denial or whatever about that- I just know my mother a lot more than you do, all you guys know is the negative things I write about her here when she is pissing me off.

    And if it's all her personality, what explains the literally dozens of OTDers I know who have faced similar reactions from their parents? ALL their parents are narcissists? Come on!

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  21. Obviously, it's your blog and we only know what you choose to share.

    Not all MO parents disown kids to stop being Orthodox. Look at how Ami described his relationship with his late parents (post written before their sudden death): http://offthepathandontotheroad.blogspot.ca/2012/08/a-big-anniversary.html

    The relationship that you had with your mother was not a normal, loving mother-daughter relationship, from what you have described. Period. Since you will soon hopefully be a mother yourself, it's really important to recognize that, because otherwise we tend to repeat patterns that feel familiar to us. You never experienced a feeling of unconditional love from your mother. From what you have written on this blog, there were always issues. No, the other issues didn't cause her to disown you, but you clearly felt that you couldn't rely on her love, and that fueled the conflict. You reacted to being grounded at 15 by swallowing pills, and said that she didn't notice. That's not normal, and it's not part of Judaism. She had a fit when you were dating your old Jewish boyfriend and sought out advice on how to make you break it off. That's not normal, and it's not part of Judaism. She took your academic career aspirations as some sort of personal insult. Again, not normal. Plenty of Jews who don't believe in G-d still enjoy and/or have positive memories of Shabbat dinners with family, because they associate them with family warmth. You hated them so much that you couldn't stand to come home once a week for them, even though your boyfriend was also in your home town. That says something about the lousy home atmosphere. The twin themes that come up in your posts about going OTD and your parents are lack of unconditional love, and control. Your relationship with your mother wasn't good prior to B coming along, and you know it. It wouldn't be good today if you had married a nice Jewish boy - you would still feel that you couldn't really please her, that she was more concerned about her friend's opinions than you, and feel that she was trying to control you. You'd still wonder if she'd reject you if you said or did the wrong thing, or feel that you had to appease her. The relationship was NOT "pretty ok", and you need to recognize that. Sure, this particular cause of the final rift was related to religion. From what you have written, though, I don't get the sense that this is a parent who had always shown that she loved you with all her heart, who was simply following the dictates of a rabbi even though it broke her heart. Instead, it sounds like this was simply the last step in a long process, where you finally challenged her head-on.

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  22. Many people who practice fundamentalist religion cut off their children for not following in their footsteps. It's sad but true. I agree with AE that if it weren't for extreme religious differences, she and her mother would have a somewhat-OK relationship.

    I know people who are tearing their hair out with worry because their teenage daughters want to wear pants or skirts above the knee, no exaggeration; is it a surprise that they would act in an even more extreme manner if their child intermarried?

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  23. Pretty much. If your parents are reasonable human beings, and the child loses interest in the religion, the child loses interest in the religion. If the parents are twisted people, and the child loses interest in the religion, parents go all ape shit.

    I've seen parents disown a child because they wanted him to go to law school and he wanted to be an engineer.

    Mentally ill parents do crappy stuff. Religious is how it manifests itself.

    Don't fool yourself, if your mom is as twisted as you make her sound, she would have found some reason to cut you off. The specific manner in which it happened is because of the religion.

    Plenty of my neighbors have non-Frum children. They come to their house, and act like a family. One neighbor of mine was staying with her parents for weeks (months, not sure if she moved back home, we're not that close), and most Friday nights she was out getting picked up by friends to go out dressed in a miniskirt and came back late in the night. I can't literally vouch that it was every weekend, but it seemed it, given that I'd see her coming or going regularly and I'm not outside my house that much.

    The "OTDers" are people with messed up parents. If they didn't have messed up parents, they wouldn't be OTD. That's be non-Orthodox Jews, secular Jews, or atheists with no Jewish connection. The fact that people are defining themselves by their OTDness is because of messed up family life.

    A close friend of ours grew up RWMO, went to Beis Yaakov, etc. She's LWMO now, still talks to her parents. She has an openly non-Orthodox sister that I've met, parents know. The sister isn't an Orthodox Jew, but she's not "OTD" because her lack of Orthodoxy isn't her defining characteristic because her family isn't mentally disturbed.

    Pretty sure your mom would have stopped talking to you after you moved out, she wasn't interested in you, as you've made it clear. If you married an Orthodox Jew, she'd have probably involved herself in planning your wedding to make HER and her friends happy, then pestered you for grandchildren, then showed no interest until it was time to plan a Bris/Baby Naming for her friends.

    I'm pretty sure her "sitting Shiva" is a function of her being religious, but she'd have found another example.

    But yet, the dozens of OTD people with these stories is probably statistically about right for an overlap between mental illness and lapsed Orthodox Jews. I mean, pretty much every population study shows LOTS of Orthodox children, not a lot of Orthodox adults. Orthodoxy's retention rate is pretty abysmal.

    Conservative Synagogues and Chabads are filled with members that "grew up Orthodox" and are anything but, but don't have the anger and disastrous story you have. Because their parents, also Orthodox, but not sick and twisted, reacted like normal people whose children chose a different path, and not lunatics.

    "Also, why would I have a private ceremony that's meaningless to me so that I can tell my dad I had one?"

    Because sometimes being a good person means doing things you don't want to do for the benefit of other people.

    Same reason most of the kids I knew in Hebrew School were there with me, their grandparents wanted a Bar Mitzvah, the parents picked an easy Hebrew School schedule and enrolled the kids. They were all open that they were there to have a Bar Mitzvah for their grandparents.

    In fact, in many ways, those kids got more out of 3 years of Hebrew School than most of the Yeshiva kids I know got out of theirs. They got that it was important to do something for their grandparents that neither they nor their parents wanted. The fact that it was Hebrew school and not piano lessons is incidental to the moral lesson.

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    1. Miami Al - again, I'm going to have to disagree with the "humour the grandparents" approach.

      The National Jewish Population Survey found that attendance at Sunday School was pretty much useless when it came to having a lasting impact on Jewish identification and involvement. On the other hand, attending a Jewish camp was a very strong factor influencing future involvement. See http://www.peje.org/docs/ImpactofJewishEducation.pdf.

      What's the difference? Kids aren't stupid. They know that those Sunday school classes that they were being forced to attend by their parents, who were forced to enroll them by rabbis as a condition of having a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, which they were forced to have in order to please grandparents, were not meant to be taken seriously. Nobody wanted to be there. It was a sham, and they knew it.

      Camp, on the other hand, is something that kids WANT to do. For many, it's one of their most positive memories. The Judaism at camp is taught with "ruach" (spirit), and it comes alive. You can't compare a boring, wasted Sunday morning learning the laws of Shabbat that you never see practiced at home, with the experience of singing songs to welcome in the Shabbat down by the lake, as everyone is suddenly clean and showered and coming together.

      I agree that sometimes, social graces are needed, and we may do things for people that we love because we respect that it is important to them. Sham ceremonies, though, don't really honor anyone.

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    2. "Pretty sure your mom would have stopped talking to you after you moved out, she wasn't interested in you, as you've made it clear. If you married an Orthodox Jew, she'd have probably involved herself in planning your wedding to make HER and her friends happy, then pestered you for grandchildren, then showed no interest until it was time to plan a Bris/Baby Naming for her friends."

      I actually moved out of my parents house about 3 or 4 years before I met my husband, and I talked to my mom around once a week afterwards, until a few months after I got engaged when she told me that if I wanted to talk to her I could never talk to her about B. But she didn't stop talking to me when I moved out. Although come to think of it, she never called me, I only called her.

      That's interesting your comment about jewish weddings- so I was actually engaged to an orthodox jewish man (in appearance, he was secretly OTD like I was at the time) when I was 21, and my mom totally took over the planning and planned a huge traditional jewish weddig, and would basically not let me make any decisions, and any decisions I did made she overrode, especially if they were "non traditional" in any way. Like I really did not want a traditional jewish wedding band, I wanted either a band like soul farm (too expensive) or a classical music type band, but she ended up booking a typical keyboard/trumpets type jewish band. I wanted a wedding outdoors (in the end when I did get married I got married in the woods) and she found some hotel where we could have the smorgasbord outdoors but the ceremony would have been indoors in this big gaudy hall that was totally not me. I wanted a renaissance type dress, she talked me into this boring dress that didn't have any of the features I wanted. If i had gone through with that wedding it would have looked like any other typical modern orthodox wedding. You are so right there.

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    3. JRKMommy,

      "I agree that sometimes, social graces are needed, and we may do things for people that we love because we respect that it is important to them. Sham ceremonies, though, don't really honor anyone."

      I disagree. It didn't honor the religion, but guess what, spending 120-240 hours doing something that you don't want to do but is important to your grandchildren communicates something, "sometimes we do things we don't want to do to benefit others."

      That is a valuable moral lesson. I think AE should do something to give the child a Jewish name DESPITE the fact that she doesn't want to as a gesture toward her father. Not to make the kids Jewish, not because the ceremony will mean anything to her, not because she'll find it pleasant, but simply because her father, the guy that worked 70 hours/week and still took time to read her stories, the guy the played games with them, that took her on adventures every weekend without her mother.

      So yes, I think because of all those things he did for her despite her mom sucking, and because despite all the BS going on now he is constantly reaching out to her, she should find one to two hours to do something she doesn't want to do just for him. Doing things you don't want to do for other people is a great skill for a parent, one her mother clearly never mastered and one AE needs to master if she doesn't want to turn into her mother.

      Kids knew that their parents didn't value it, the "I had to go to Hebrew School so you do too" attitude was communicated. However, it WAS communicated that "you need to do this for your grandparents."

      That's the lesson that I think Hebrew School does a good job communicating.

      The "lay" baby naming I went to in a person's home was for the husbands parents, who weren't happy with the intermarriage. It was a rather pointless hour of time, but it was important to them, so we went. Sometimes we do things for others, that's part of being a good person.

      "But she didn't stop talking to me when I moved out. Although come to think of it, she never called me, I only called her. "

      Bingo, as pointed out elsewhere, this isn't a case of your mother being heartbroken but being told by her Rav not to talk to you. This is a case of your mother being uninterested in you because of her problems, and religion being one aspect of it.

      There is a song on the radio about growing up in a small town with a lyric line that is more or less, "even if you don't believe, come Sunday morning you best be in the front row pews" or something like that. Social expectations of religious involvement regardless of belief level is not unique to Judaism.

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    4. Honestly, grab a Siddur, online or otherwise, grab a few Jewish friends (if you're dislike of Judaism hasn't thrown you into a totally anti-semetic rage and you don't have any), put out Bagels and Cream Cheese, and you and/or B read the blessing used by the Gabbai to name a girl at Shul. Serve your spread, and move on with life. Send your dad an emails with the name. Life moves on.

      You should do it because it's a nice thing to do for your father.

      I'm sure that's a behavior you never witnessed your mother do, but it's a good thing to do.

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    5. There are plenty of ways to honor a parent or grandparent that don't involve doing phony religious ceremonies or other things that actively go against your beliefs as a parent.

      AE could continue to send photos to her father. She could spend some time with him on the phone, asking him for stories about her babyhood and childhood. When the baby arrives, she could Skype or Facetime regularly, and send cute video clips. She could call and send cards right before holidays, as a gesture of respect for HIS holidays. If she visits with baby, they can stay for a Shabbat dinner, because it is important to the grandparents.

      At the same time, there's a huge difference between showing respect and ignoring boundaries. Clearly, that's been an issue in AE's life, to some extent with her father as well as her mother.

      Parents need to be the "alpha" in their kids lives. They need to be the ones in charge, making the decisions and setting the example. As well meaning as grandparents can be, they need to get the message that some decisions are not theirs to make. My parents and in-laws - whom I love and respect - were gently but firmly told that our decisions to not use baby formula and to not feed our children any food that wasn't kosher were simply not up for discussion, and that if we couldn't trust them to respect our wishes, we wouldn't be able to trust them to babysit.

      Would you suggest that B humor his mother in the same way, by having a sham baptism? Fair is fair. Paternal grandma could put the photos on Facebook, tag everyone, have the photos appear on AE's Facebook feed, and get back to AE's parents. Or, does respecting one grandparent mean disrespecting another?

      If these grandparents who push Sunday school were told about the studies showing that it is worse than useless, would they still want it? My guess is that many would subsidize a Jewish camp experience for their grandchildren instead, and prefer to see some genuine Jewish involvement from their grandchildren instead.

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    6. There are plenty of ways to honor a parent or grandparent that don't involve doing phony religious ceremonies or other things that actively go against your beliefs as a parent.

      AE could continue to send photos to her father. She could spend some time with him on the phone, asking him for stories about her babyhood and childhood. When the baby arrives, she could Skype or Facetime regularly, and send cute video clips. She could call and send cards right before holidays, as a gesture of respect for HIS holidays. If she visits with baby, they can stay for a Shabbat dinner, because it is important to the grandparents.

      At the same time, there's a huge difference between showing respect and ignoring boundaries. Clearly, that's been an issue in AE's life, to some extent with her father as well as her mother.

      Parents need to be the "alpha" in their kids lives. They need to be the ones in charge, making the decisions and setting the example. As well meaning as grandparents can be, they need to get the message that some decisions are not theirs to make. My parents and in-laws - whom I love and respect - were gently but firmly told that our decisions to not use baby formula and to not feed our children any food that wasn't kosher were simply not up for discussion, and that if we couldn't trust them to respect our wishes, we wouldn't be able to trust them to babysit.

      Would you suggest that B humor his mother in the same way, by having a sham baptism? Fair is fair. Paternal grandma could put the photos on Facebook, tag everyone, have the photos appear on AE's Facebook feed, and get back to AE's parents. Or, does respecting one grandparent mean disrespecting another?

      If these grandparents who push Sunday school were told about the studies showing that it is worse than useless, would they still want it? My guess is that many would subsidize a Jewish camp experience for their grandchildren instead, and prefer to see some genuine Jewish involvement from their grandchildren instead.

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    7. I think giving my kid a jewish name would be cruel in a way, because it would give my parents/father false hope that one day I might become more religious. That or it will make him start pressing even more for religious influences in my kid's life. I don't want my kids to have anything to do with judaism or the jewish religion, and I don't want my parents thinking that they will.

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    8. At some point your child may ask about Judaism. Eventually he'll have a chance to explore his heritage, and given that he'll be a Halachic Jew, he wouldn't need to convert if he chooses to explore it.

      Your anger with your family's brand of Judaism is fair, and has poisoned you forever, I get that.

      I met plenty of people in college that beyond knowing nominally that they were Jewish, had nothing to do with it since their Bris (normally no Bar Mitzvah). Some developed Jewish pride as adults, some adopted some form of Jewish practice, etc... sometimes it came from dating someone that happened to be Jewish and things came up.

      Your child is going to know that they are Jewish, if for no other reason that their mother's parents are Jewish, and at some point in 10-18 years, he'll understand what that means.

      And he won't have your baggage, in fact, his exposure to Judaism will be entirely sugar coated fantasy Judaism that won't jive with the horror stories he's heard from his mother.

      I think you're going to have the opposite effect that you are looking for with your approach.

      Best of luck, I wish you, B, and your child the best of luck.

      Delete
    9. Just because religious Jew will call AE's child Jewish doesn't mean that her child will identify as a Jew. The child will be partly of Jewish heritage. There are tons of Jews who can say, yeah, my grandparents are Orthodox Jews. My kids say it. So what? The child will find his or her own way just like AE did. The child could accept his/her parents' belief system or look elsewhere no different from AE. The fact that atheism makes more sense, of course, puts my bets on AE's child being more likely to follow suit. That the child will have two loving parents adds to my betting odds. Very little reason to join a cult/religion if you belong somewhere already. And if the child is curious about his heritage? AE is a doctor of sociology. I am sure she can offer a wonderful education about his/her heritage.

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    10. It will come up the first time the child is romantically involved with a Jew. The issue will come up the first time the child dates someone whose parents are anti-Semitic. The issue will come up when the child hears kids talking about Chanukah and Christmas in school.

      The belief structure is a VERY SMALL part of the religion, the cultural context is much larger.

      95% of Americans identify with some sort of religious belief/structure. Socially, there is a 95% chance that person they express a romantic interest in will have such a context... especially since child atheism is a lack of religion, not a rejection of religion like an adult.

      Children only exist in a vacuum for a few years. I think that the lack of a naming/bris and the Orthodox grandparents is going to create a strange forbidden fruit aspect to it. Whereas a very neutral and light secular Jewishness would let it fade into the background like it does for most American Jews.

      Or not, perhaps the child will have no interest in religion, and only have romantic interests in other people that also have no interest in religion.

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    11. Chances are our kids won't date other jews, just because there are hardly any jewish people where we live. Most people around here don't even know what jews are. Also why would hearing about christmas/chanukah confuse them? We'll still be celebrating christmas with B's family every year...

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    12. By that argument, Al, shouldn't they get a Baptism as well?

      I mean, B's Mom has been far more supportive than AE's Dad, so if they were going to do something they don't believe in for him, surely they could do it for her.

      Hey, they could even combine them. "We gave [Baby] a Jewish name and then the Priest sprinkled holy water", wouldn't that go over well with everyone?

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    13. If it was important to B's late father, or his mother, than I would say sure. It's not like a Baptism will offend AE, she has no religious opinion. If B's mother really wanted to take her granddaughter to her first communion, would AE go crazy?

      This isn't about Atheism, this isn't about not wanting to be Jewish, this is about AE's anger toward her parents for crap her mother did.

      She doesn't object to being a secular Christian, but a single question from her father sets her off on a "self directed" tirade.

      She brings up all the wonderful things her father did, but only in contrast to her mother. Sometimes family rituals are about people other than themselves. I think AE is being self absorbed to only see it through her lens and her pain, and not through her fathers.

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    14. Actually taking my kid to a baptism or to first communion would offend me, as would any jewish religious ritual. I'm an ATHEIST, I think religious is wrongheaded and wrong, and I don't want my kid to have any part of it. If I wanted to be part of a religion I would be part of a religion. I celebrate secular christmas where we exchange gifts and set up a tree and have a family dinner (and jesus is not mentioned and we don't go to church) because it's important to B to spend time with his family, and he wants to celebrate christmas, but no way in hell is my kid getting baptized or a bris.

      Religion is for "other people" sounds like a bunch of bullshit designed to guilt people into taking part of religious rituals they have no interest in. Not only do I have no interest in religion, I actively dislike religion, and I'm not going to have any sort of ritual to please a bunch of family members, especially the ones who couldn't see past themselves enough to come to my wedding. Family goes both ways, and my family has not shown themselves to be able to look past their own interests to come to my important family ritual (my wedding), or even invite me and my husband over to their house ever, so no way in hell am I having a ritual purely on their behalf. Why the fuck would I?

      I think you are trying to push religion on me here and I think you should stfu about it already. Guess what, it's my kid, and me and B are the only ones who get to decide what religion they will or will not be exposed to. And we choose none. B is the only family member of mine whose religious opinions I will ever take into account.

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    15. I apologize that you got that impression. I haven't meant to push anything that I'd consider religion on you. You don't believe, reject beliefs, and have a negative view of anything approaching organized religion which I understand and support.

      You and B will decide which religion or lack thereof your child(ren) are raised in, and that is your right as a parent. However, exposure is all around us. I have lots of intermarried family members, and some of their experiences as a result have been quite painful. Cousins who aren't Jewish but have a Jewish father encountering anti-semitism when dating (parents making Jewish cracks around them), people without an idea about their heritage and what that means. None of that to me is "religious" (no religious has an obligation to be an asshole), but a function of cultural markers and how it influences your children.

      I have only meant to suggest that a naming or baptism would have no significance to you, you don't believe in the religions or what they espouse, they would be empty rituals to you. However, rituals may have meaning to your extended family, and cultural markers are important to people.

      I gave you the reasons that I thought you should consider doing something that would be meaningless to you but might be meaningful to your families. You disagree.

      I wish you, B, and your child all the best, and hope you will continue to restore your relationship with your father, who seems to genuinely love you, and will hopefully be a positive influence on your child. However, you suspect that your fathers love is conditional with an intention on influencing your children, I hope you are wrong, but I don't know your father except your posts here. One thing I learned in business, when negotiating with people that have business partners is that often the business partners aren't 100% aligned, and sometimes I've found creative breakthroughs by evaluating the interests of the partners separately, even if I was negotiating with one. I believe your parents have different emotions and interests in their relationship with you, and I hope your realizations about your mothers narcissism will help you see, and relate, to your two parents on different levels.

      I have found your blog and your posts very meaningful to me, as I struggle with how I make certain that our religious and cultural practices and exposure remain positive to my children and not negative. I truly fear, as a parent, my children ending up like you, bitter and angry for the upbringing we give them.

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  24. If your parents are reasonable human beings, and the child loses interest in the religion, the child loses interest in the religion.

    Mentally ill parents do crappy stuff. Religious is how it manifests itself.

    I find it hard to brand whole communities of people as mentally ill, though it could be that people who are drawn to fundamentalist religion are the same kind of people who would disown their children.

    But to me, fundamentalists aren't necessarily mentally ill. They're more like cult members, who are indoctrinated to take extreme, self-destructive action.

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    1. Again, whole communities don't do these things to their children, individual parents do these things to their children. You have no idea what the children that moved "out of town" do, and parents could very easily be visiting them and their gentile spouses without anyone being the wiser.

      The Super-Frum world does a very good job of putting up an image of what "everyone does" despite it not being true.

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    2. The Super-Frum world does a very good job of putting up an image of what "everyone does" despite it not being true.

      Absolutely true. However, when I was growing up 30-40 years ago, even Conservative and Reform parents freaked out when their kids came home wanting to marry a non-Jew. It's not such a stretch that people who consider themselves VERY, VERY ORTHODOX act in a similar manner today.

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  25. Tesyaa,

    Cult attract the mentally ill. They use fear and power to control people. The fundamentalist strains of Judaism are just as cultish as the Christian and Muslim cults.

    I mean, the groups you are talking about are all 2-3 generations old. They might claim a connection to the "old country" and claim a line for their Rebbe, but their followers are 95% post-WW2 converts to their cult.

    They retain some percentage out of indoctrination, some out of fear, etc., but plenty of people leave. Those groups are generally small and cultish, they just seem large because you live near them.

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    1. The fundamentalist strains of Judaism are just as cultish as the Christian and Muslim cults.

      Agree.

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    2. But plenty of children leave, move "out of town" and are seen from rarely. I have plenty of female friends that are "going home" for Pesach and need to change their entire wardrobe for the trip, and not just because of the climate change.

      They all seem nice and frum when in town for a week, because they have decent relationships with their parents (as opposed to AE), but throwing a hat on for a week and being the "(cluck cluck) only Modern Orthodox (cluck cluck)" child visiting doesn't hide the fact that their kids aren't in Yeshiva, they may be socially Orthodox with a Kosher home, but are otherwise "traditional" Jews... the Shul they don't go to is Orthodox, and the Shabboses they keep are Orthodox style, and the ones they don't keep are just ignored.

      But again, none of them have the fireworks and explosions. The "come to Jesus" moment is when their family visits them. Sometimes they frum out for a weekend, other times, they don't, and their parents leave, but probably don't run around town when they get back about how their daughter/daughter-in-law spent all Shabbat in a bikini by the pool, they probably just coo about their grandchildren.

      The OTD theatrics are a function of mental illness and control fights, NOT Judaism. As AE points out, her brother lived in their house for a decade as a non-observant Jew. She calls him OTD, I wonder if he called himself that, or just didn't bother. The whole OTD phenomenon is a result of twisted family dynamics. Non twisted families just have non Orthodox children/grandchildren, not OTD ones.

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    3. Interesting. There may be a lot of people who imagine that they'd disown their children if they came out as non-frum/homosexual/intermarried etc, but when push comes to shove, they are more accommodating.

      But why do the kids with accommodating parents still feel the need to move away? I'm not saying they should live in the heart of the frum community, but why is it they're never just one town over?

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    4. Miami Al and tesyaa - good point about how post-WWII ultra-Orthodox communities are quite different, and are NOT simply a reflection of pre-war shtetls. To a certain extent, you had entire communities of Holocaust survivors with PTSD, together with some BTs who often had issues similar to the OTDs (bad relationships with family of origin, tendency to view everything about past religious life in a fairly one-dimensional, negative way).

      It's a stark contrast from some of the family genealogical information that I've seen. One book (One Hundred Years in Canada: The Rubinoff-Naftolin Family Tree) describes how some ancestors seem to have been early adherents of Lubavitch - and today the descendents range from atheist and/or intermarried to somewhat traditional to very frum. In this particular family, though, the family ties and identification with Judaism, regardless of level of observance or belief, remained quite strong. I've also seen it in descriptions of my great-grandfather's farm - my dad and his cousins will describe the kosher slaughter of chickens in one sentence, and the dance hall in the next, without any sense of tension between the two.

      Non-Ashkenazi Jews are often like this as well. It's extremely common in Sephardic or Mizrachi homes to see kids who would never dream of missing Friday night kiddush, but who are quite open about going clubbing after dinner.

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    5. "But why do the kids with accommodating parents still feel the need to move away?"

      Because they want a change, hence the whole dropping out of Orthodoxy. Somewhere on the order of two-thirds of Americans participate in the same religion as they grew up (the numbers float between how broad/narrow you define the religion, i.e. Protestantism vs. mainline Protestantism vs. specific denomination). If you're happy with your life, and want a life that is how you grew up, you stay put, if you're not happy, you make changes.

      Generally the change involves location as a part of it.

      I just don't think Orthodox Judaism is dramatically different from other segments of American life. People that want out, leave. People whose families are twisted result in huge massive disasters on the way out.

      If you don't want to live like your parents, why live where they can "drop in" on you without notice?

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    6. "hey all seem nice and frum when in town for a week, because they have decent relationships with their parents (as opposed to AE), but throwing a hat on for a week and being the "(cluck cluck) only Modern Orthodox (cluck cluck)" child visiting doesn't hide the fact that their kids aren't in Yeshiva, they may be socially Orthodox with a Kosher home, but are otherwise "traditional" Jews... the Shul they don't go to is Orthodox, and the Shabboses they keep are Orthodox style, and the ones they don't keep are just ignored."

      But that was basically what my life was like until i met my husband. I came home a few times a year and dressed up in a skirt and long sleeves and stuff. The fireworks didn't come until i started dating a non jewish guy, and got especially bad when we got engaged. I mean i didn't have a kosher home or anything, but I would come home for some jewish holidays (like purim, didn't like coming home for the ones where I had to live like an amish person for several days). And again, my parents are modern orthodox...

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    7. In part 1 of your "how I went OTD" series, you wrote:

      "...I was trapped in my house without even school for social contact. As you can imagine I fell into a depression and at one point towards the end of the first month when I felt like I was trapped in my room forever and I would never be able to be happy again, I ate a bunch of Tylenol to try to kill myself."

      That's NOT normal. That's NOT "somewhat OK". You may not be describing it as "fireworks", but a suicide attempt (and the punishment leading up to it, and the fact that your parents were oblivious to your attempt and your depression) IS a big deal.

      Correct me if I'm wrong, but on some level, you weren't dressing up on home visits thinking "I may not be religious anymore, but I love and respect my parents and genuinely want to show it." Instead, it sounds like your thought process was, "I have to dress up and pretend, because that's the only way to avoid a fight and to continue to get any support at all from them. If I don't do this, they may not love me anymore."

      At some point, living with the idea that parental love was conditional and could disappear if you didn't follow the rules was simply too painful, so you withdrew.

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    8. ugh that reminds me, I always used to bring home flowers for the shabbas table/holiday table when I came home to visit in college (when I was forced to come home every weekend) and grad school, because I think I was like trying to get my mom to like me or something. Sigh. I used to buy her these really nice birthday presents too. Never seemed to really work.

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    9. My husband and I both have maternal grandmothers with this personality disorder (as well as bipolar disorder in the case of my grandmother). Appeasement simply Does.Not.Work. I have watched my MIL, who is a lovely, gentle soul, endure extreme emotional abuse (repeated calls at work, screaming "you're the worst daughter in the world", being told "I'm dying and it's all your fault" after refusing an outrageous request that would have resulted in her child being apprehended by child protection officials) and listened to her crying countless times as she tried in vain to figure out why her mother believed that she was such a bad daughter. I also spent years listening to my own grandmother complain about my mother, until we finally realized that she was mentally ill.

      I do have some limited relationships (a few hours per year) with these women now, but they only work because I'm very clear on the fact that they are the ones with the issues, and their perceptions do not in any way alter my view of reality. My mother and I are also very good at setting boundaries (I threatened to take out a restraining order and eliminate any and all contact with my kids, for their safety, and only resumed limited contact once the safety threat was gone) and ending unproductive conversations. My mother, as an only child, honors her mother by ensuring that her physical and mental health needs are met, but does so in a way that she is no longer subject to abuse. (Now that grandma is over 90 and dementia has set in, she is actually far more pleasant.) I am the only one in the family who is not subject to my husband's grandmother's abuse, because she knows that I would instantly terminate contact if she tried.

      Part of the reason that I'm arguing so hard that things weren't ok before your mom stopped talking to you is that I saw how my husband's grandmother, who appeared to be so loving and devoted, was actually a selfish, manipulative, abusive and evil woman all along and it took a crisis to realize just how bad it was.

      Miami Al: I'm not putting all the gory details on a public blog, because they are highly confidential, but I can assure you that my children enjoy close and wonderful relationships will the rest of their relatives and we have taken active steps to ensure that they are knowledgeable and proud of all parts of their background. I took the extreme steps that I did because we were being asked to do things that directly endangered children, and our refusal to do so fueled some extreme retaliation/extortion.

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    10. That's wonderful. We've had to cut destructive people out of our lives for periods of time, sometimes months, sometimes years, because they were a danger to ourselves, our children, or just our well being. I've got manipulative women in my extended family as well, and we very much limit our contact with them. I'm very fortunate that none are in the "direct line" that I deal with, so it's a few times a year, and I keep my difference.

      I am very happy to hear that you took the appropriate steps to protect your children from abusive relatives, and still managed to limit the collateral damage to keep extended family in the family zone.

      We've at times had to cut off large chunks of the surrounding family because of the nastiness and viciousness, which was very sad. My children have extensive relationships with various extended relatives, but because of mental illness and/or substance abuse problems, certain relatives had to be removed from our lives, and their enabler siblings/parents were collateral damage.

      Sounds like you've had more extreme problems than I had and were able to isolate it with less severity than me, so hats off to you.

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  26. AE, it is interesting to me to know that you mom was actively involved in planning your wedding that never came to be. That says a lot about what is the narcissism and what is the religious part. She may be a narcissist but clearly religion has a whole lot to do with her decisions regarding her behavior toward you.
    BTW, all these people recommending that you be all diplomatic and spare your parents' feelings, I am kinda sick of hearing it. I say be honest and to your last paragraph TITCR.

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    1. You don't think the wedding planning was part of the narcissism? I mean it was all about her and what she wanted, and putting on a big show for her family/friends...also she seemed angry at me when we broke off the engagement/ i got dumped by my ex fiance. At the time I didn't get it and was just really hurt by the whole thing (I mean it wasn't like i was the one who broke things off, so why be mad at me?), but now I think maybe she was angry because she didn't get to have her big fancy party, and she also 'lost face' by having a daughter with a broken engagement. Or something. I don't know. I'm not sure exactly what you mean by saying it says a lot about what is religion and what is narcissism...

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    2. I think it is all narcissism with your mom. You are an extension of her and she is religious therefore you need to be too. Getting married within her accepted framework fed her narcissism. Leaving religion is an attack on her narcissism because it is all about her. You are therefore of no use to her so you were dropped altogether. Not having her in your child's life is for the best. No one needs to feel that there is any pressure for them to be an accepted accessory for their grandparent. Yuck. Her loss. The day you just accept that she is who she is and you have no power to change it is the day you are free from her too.

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    3. I can't imagine she would have much if any part in my child's life, since we still aren't ever invited over to her house and we live 12 hours away. If anything they might see her once every couple of years, and that would probably be at my dad's insistence. B grew up hardly ever knowing his dad's dad (his dad didn't get along with him) and only met his grandfather on that side around 5 or 6 times, and he doesn't seem worse for it.

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  27. It sounds like your mother was motivated by "what will the neighbors say", above all. She put it above her relationship with you. In some ways, I'd say that she even put it above genuine commitment to Judaism. I have a theory that in many frum communities, some people worship at the feet of "what will people say" to the extent that it's a modern form of idolatry.

    Religion certainly influenced the community norms, that's clear. Your mom's concern, though, seemed to be related less to what Judaism actually required and more about how she would be viewed.

    There is nothing in Judaism, for example, that would have prohibited you from dating a convert (in fact, Jewish law is pretty clear on the need not to oppress converts). There is nothing in Jewish law that dictates the type of music to be played at a wedding. As for doing things outdoors - some sources say that an outdoor ceremony is preferable. Your mother didn't care about any of that. She cared about what the yentas would say.

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  28. AE wrote:

    "I don't want my kids to have anything to do with judaism or the jewish religion, and I don't want my parents thinking that they will."

    That's the heart of issue, isn't it?

    I went back and re-read Part 5 of the How I Went OTD series. It's pretty clear that your panic attacks were related to family pressure/control issues, and the fact that you were feeling that everything to do with your exploration of the Jewish community was something that you felt forced to do to please them.

    For that reason alone, the idea of faking some religious gesture for your child to appease your parents would be a horrible idea.

    At the same time, you didn't really indicate anything heinous about contact with the wider, non-Orthodox community. There were some bad dates and some mixers that you didn't care for, but it seems that for the most part, your negative reaction to the contact relates back to your issues with your parents. You still seem to be really adamant that you don't want contact with your local (non-Orthodox, I assume) Jewish community or to have your future child have anything to do with Judaism.

    Have you thought about how you will deal with your background with your child? He or she will be coming into this world without your experiences, and may have very different feelings and reactions. Kids also have a certain curiosity about their family tree and history.

    Would you ever be able to investigate the larger Jewish community, not in an attempt to please your parents or be untrue to your core beliefs, but from a more independent adult perspective, to get a more objective sense of its breadth and what it is all about?

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    1. I don't think we're going to hide the fact that I was raised jewish from our kids, I expect once they are old enough I will explain that I was raised with a religion I don't agree with and don't think is true, and when they are a bit older and maybe going off to college I will also explain to them about kiruv tactics and what to look out for there. And if they choose to take part in the jewish religion knowing all that, then that's their choice and I'm fine with that.

      I've investigated the jewish community a whole lot, I just am not interested in religion of any kind. I don't get why that is so hard for people to understand...I have plenty of community outside of religion, and it doesn't add anything to my life. You are right that I was only doing things around college and afterwards to make my parents happy, because I never enjoyed taking part in any of it (except maybe the free food part, and yeah it was nice to make friends, except that all those friends pretty much dumped me when I dumped religion). I don't think I have the gene that allows me to enjoy rituals for the sake of ritual. The whole thing just seems stupid to me. Even when I went to a catholic mass, and reform/ reconstructionist services, which at least were interesting because I never had been to those types of services before and I was curious as to what they were doing, 90% of the time I was just like "gee this is dumb and boring, I wish I could be at home watching tv or reading the internet right now"

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  29. By the way, if you haven't read it yet, I'd recommend "The Color of Water" by James McBride. Parts of it could be triggering for you, but it's an interesting about a Black Christian man with a White Jewish mother, who had hidden her background from her children for years, until her son started to really press her for more information. By the end of the book, he's still identifying primarily as a Black Christian, but also sees a connection to his Jewish roots as well.

    http://books.google.ca/books?id=CctQ44yQexcC

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  30. I know plenty of people who are no longer observant who have good relationships with thier families.

    I do think that its ok to be angry with both your parents and Judaism. I think both are important facets of their personality and choices.

    Ultimately, the question is: do you want to maintain a decent relationship with your father? If so, don't be abrasive in your communication with him. If you don't care, then go ahead, but I don't think anyone gains from that really.

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    1. I didn't actually send this to him, these are just letters I write in my head at 5am. :) I'm much less abrasive when I talk to him, but I have lots of snarky thoughts I don't share with him that I like to share here.

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    2. Share away :-) I'm just rooting for you to have a decent relationship with your father, since he seems somewhat decent.

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  31. one thing that I want to point out to all the people saying "your moms just cray-cray, it has nothing to do with religion". My father was raised in an extremely fundie sect and his mother was also extremely mentally ill. Would she have been mentally ill without the religious aspect? Yes. Would my father have been raised in a community which saw her unhealthy and abusive behaviors as normal and sometimes even praise worthy because they showed her commitment to Jesus. No. The fact is religious communities often ignore or brush under the rug extremely toxic and abusive behaviors by parents because the right religious justifications are used. Are there secular kids who are disowned by parents for ridiculous reasons, sure, but the fact is that the rest of their families/communities will not help enforce the shunning in the way that religious communities do. Abandoning Eden's mother has been ENABLED in her toxic behavior instead of CONFRONTED.

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    1. And Asians with crazy moms get it enabled as "Tiger Moms." A professional women that torture their daughters that don't want high powered careers get it enabled as "feminist role models."

      If your community has certain ideals, and you are a mentally ill mother, you channel your mental illness into the community ideals and it is see as super parenting.

      Narcissistic hippie parents push their kids to being equally crazy.

      Every community has an outlet for crazy people to do awful crazy things and torture their children.

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  32. dear AE
    i think what u wrote is great and u should send it
    what everyone wrote about ur mother is just showes that everyone is to there own and can do whatever they wany and u picked this way

    u could write like this will be your grandchild and i hope u would love him even he is not religious as u are everyone can do whatever thay want

    good luck and keep us poseted

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  33. It is interesting that the concept of AE keeping her children from religion has been predicted not to work but when raising kids Orthodox and keeping them in a world of only other Orthodox Jews exist in every aspect of their lives it is considered the best route to keeping them in the fold. If AE has concluded that there is no god and that religion is harmful why in the world would she further explore her religious heritage? Do the Greeks still explore the possibilities of integrating Greek "mythology" rituals into their lives because their ancestors once believed in that nonsense? Would any OrthodoxJew comment on this blog that she should further explore other strains if Christinity if she were unhappy with being a Methodist? I realize that it is as difficult for Some Orthodox Jews to imagine that a good life could exist outside of their way of life. Hey it is hard for many of us atheists who grew up in Orthodoxy to understand how an intelligent adult can still not only believe in that stuff but accepts some of the backwards "moral values" that it preaches. But reality is, there is life outside of Judaism. The numbers if atheists are growing with the US lagging behind the rest of the Western world. What AE is doing is what is coming in larger and larger numbers. Personally, I think it is a good thing. More room for secular humani.

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    1. I think if AE raises her children as atheists they're not likely to choose religion as adults. We have relatives in which the mother is Jewish and the father is Christian, and they don't appear to practice much of any religion, and neither do their grown kids. Their grown kids have been exposed to their OJ relatives and haven't been influenced to join OJ. (Pushy grandparents are, of course, a different kettle of fish than tolerant cousins visited a few times a year).

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    2. Tikun olam:

      I was referring specifically to her Jewish background, not to religious rituals. It's like Greeks taking a trip back to Greece and learning the great myths and history and contribution to western culture.

      If nothing else, her kids deserve the opportunity to laugh at all the jokes on The Daily Show ;)

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    3. You certainly don't need to raise your kids Jewish to tell them about their ancestry. I don't remember AE announcing that she will be hiding the fact that she comes from Jewish ancestry from her children.

      As much as I love Jonathan Lebowitz, err, ummm Jon Stewart, his Jewish jokes are only relevant to his (and my) generation. The kids will be in on the jokes that they relate to, they won't miss anything. If you could only see my teen and how he relates both intellectually and in humor to fellow humanists and atheists. Again, there is a whole world outside of Judaism where one can feel a sense of belonging and fulfillment. No reason for AE to feel tied to the one she happens to come from that comes intermixed with dogma that she does not believe in. You can't really separate the culture from the religion fully. I know, I have caved to pressure to do all sorts of thinks because I have continued to choose to be affilitated with a Jewish community (even the non-Orthodox ones expect brises, conversions for adoptees, bar mitzvahs)

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  34. I love you, seriously! I admire your courage to be true to yourself. I wish I had had that strength to not have my son circmucised and to stand up to my family. Even though I was mostly frum at the time of his birth, I knew then very strongly that it was something I did not want. Congrats on your pregnancy and enjoy it!

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  35. I feel bad about arguing with you a few months back, and I wish you a happy and healthy pregnancy/child. Reading about your infertility, PCOS, and morning sickness reminds me of why I'm content with being "just" a teacher and an auntie. Kudos to any woman willing to put with these things!

    You might do well asking your father why he didn't have you baptized, and then explain to him that circumcision makes as much sense to you as baptism does. He needs to understand that if you do not believe in Judaism, it is ridiculous of him to expect you to have painful cosmetic surgery performed on your child as an act of allegiance toward a god that your child cannot possibly fathom yet, much less believe in and worship.

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